If Love is the Answer, What is Love?

romantic love,
What makes love real love?

Everything had a double meaning in my mind; almost all definitions that had to do with relationships had two opposite meanings to me and when I found this truth at the roots of my belief system and began to sort it out, I found some real freedom. I found out that I had learned to accept a lot of false truth about a lot of word meanings.

Take love for instance;  I believed in fairy tale romance, and believed that there would be a prince charming saviour type guy ride in on his trusty steed and sweep me off my feet and then life would be good. Then I would be good enough. I would be loved. Life would begin! Maybe I got that idea from fairy tales, I am not really sure, but I certainly held the belief inside me somewhere. The belief that I could be rescued and that love would be the cure for everything.

But there is another side to what I believe about “love.” For the trauma survivor or the person who suffers with depression, we also have a whole other different belief system about “love”.  Some of us have been taught (in words or in actions) that love is dangerous, frightening and hurtful.  Some of us have been taught (in actions or in consequences) that love is physically painful and terrifying.  Our personal reaction to being loved by someone else largely depends on what our belief system has become about the words and the emotion of “love”. And about how we feel about ourselves as a result of our past experience with it.

In my case I had polar opposite belief systems about love. In my fantasy world, love could cure all evil, love was the answer, love was all I needed. Songs like “If I had you…; you’re the only one that I would ever need “ or “I can’t live is living is without you”; “you are the sunshine of my life” or “All I need is the air that I breath and to love you” oh yeah baby, he (his love) would be the answer to everything.

In reality however, at least in my reality, love hurts, love is mean, love means nothing. I love you means obligation, ownership, disrespect, putting up with being devalued, manipulated and accepting that I am not as important and my needs are not important, but only the person who says that they love me, is important.  This is quite a mixed message and makes love a word charged with many different feelings and fears that are triggered just hearing the words.

My therapist told me that he loved me. I felt extremely uncomfortable and wanted to leave. I thought love was physical. I was sure that I had no choice about it. When I was very fragile, I felt powerless to say no to physical love. In many ways and for many years I didn’t know that I had a choice. I also believed that if someone loved me (even in the wrong definition of love) it was my fault. So good or bad, I believed that I brought everything on myself. Quite an illusion of control, which I thought kept me safe, but also quite a burden of responsibility which was not safe at all.

There was so much really bad stuff around the word love. My mind had been conditioned to believe that love was the most wonderful thing and the answer to everything, but the truth was that most bad things had happened to me under the disguise of love and “I love you” and “because I love you” and “I want what is best for you”. I also thought that romantic love had a lot of physical obligation attached to it. Sex was the price that I had to pay for love. (but was it REALLY love)

I love you is a phrase that is thrown carelessly around; When a child wants love and acceptance so deeply it becomes easy to ignore the red flags from some people and it is also very easy to accept the wrong definition of love.

It helped me immensely to realize that I had the wrong definition of love all along. It also helped me to realize that controllers and abusers NEVER love you with the same definition of love that they want you to follow when it comes to them. 

I thought about the things that I had to do to prove my love and thought about it “they” ever “proved theirs”. I thought about this a lot. If love means that you do what they want, then when will they do what I want? The truth is that love isn’t about doing what someone else wants. It isn’t about being who someone else wants either. I had to learn about what love really is in order to sort myself out. This was one very damaged area in my belief system that was full of lies.  At the root of this was the KEY fact that I did not love myself at all.

I started to ask myself; If love is doing what is best for the one loved then what would that look like in practice? (Remember that self love is a key part of the healing process. Remember that you may also have to think about the definition of “best”.)

 Looking at these complicated and yet logical viewpoints got me a long way out of the love fog I was in and really helped me to realize who loved me and who didn’t. It also gave me some practical application tools when it came to my relationships and with my children.

And when I was able to apply the true definition of love to myself, everything came together.

Please share your experience with the false definition of love, or how you came to feel about the concept of love.

Another little snapshot.

Darlene Ouimet

Related Posts: emotional abandonment, rejection and recovery

                             Invalidation ~ when the truth is not true

                              The problem with Love ~ Fi MacLeod from “you can fly with broken wings”

Categories : Therapy



I don’t recall being told I was loved as a kid. My perp told me I loved him, made me say it when he was at his worst especially so. So to me, love had always been associated with physical survival. Which brings with it a horrid kind of panic and resignation. While I haven’t had physically abusive relationships as an adult, I have followed a pattern of emotional abuse. By never having boundaries, by being attracted to people who were sure to hurt me, over and over again.

Now that I am beginning to learn about boundaries, I find that when I enforce one and stick to my guns, my partner is surprisingly unaware of her patterns in communication. And things are rapidly on the mend.

So. Yes, understanding that I am “worth it”, happiness, is what has made it possible for me to see and rectify harms done to me. Love is taking on whole new meanings. That fear for my life will likely always kick up it’s heels from time to time but I know now from whence it stems and can let it go. Tedious, yes. But becoming less so all the time. Thanks for this.


This is a great exploration of this subject.

For me ‘love’ means pain, powerlessness, having to do things I don’t want to. ‘Love’ means manipulation, control, obligation. ‘Love’ means having to comply regardless of it’s effects upon me. For me ‘love’ is something dangerous, phoney, something to run a mile from in the opposite direction. ‘Love’ means pretending and playing games. ‘Love’ is about having no choice. ‘Love’ is something that is not real. ‘Love’ is about being false. ‘Love’ means rejection if you don’t comply or when you’re no longer of use to them.

As an adult I freak out inside if anybody ever says “I love you” to me, or writes it. It starts a panic and fight or flight reaction within me. I cannot cope with hearing or seeing those words because they mean danger to me.

I’m always testing those who say they care about me, wanting to see proof, but all I end up doing is push them away, put huge walls up or keep them at arms length. Even my closest friends are kept at arms length, I cannot afford to let them close because love, intimacy, vulnerability means you get hurt. When ‘your family’ who are supposed to ‘love’ you did everything and anything but ‘love’ you it leaves confusion and dysfunction in it’s wake.

I don’t know what love is, I’ve got a lot of healing to do in this area, that’s for sure.


In my past, the ultimate type of love was represented in the best possible church, the perfection of words of the in-crowd, which looked down on me and excluded me, but dictated my entire life, which meant control, manipulation, and finally excommunication…everyone I knew came from these circles. Starting my life over now with someone who isn’t from those circles. Now love means exploring in a relationship, respecting each other, communicating when we don’t know the outcome, taking risks, (not dangerous ones)…sharing of many thoughts and feelings and life experiences, finding our music again and making it together…


wow Darlene, once again. I swear some days it seems you go inside my head when you write a post.

Love to me was the “fairytale” prince Charming illusion too. I dont think I ever really felt “familial love” from people in my family (not always necessarily because of overt abuse, just general neglect in a variety of ways I suppose) and I have never associated that kind of love with the word, even if it happened. So to me, love has always been a romantic thing, idealized in my mind. It was so skewed for me, because of the abuse and lack of modeling from adults in my life, that I truly believed that a movie like “Pretty Woman” was realistic, and since I was already convinced that sex was love and vice versa, it wasnt much of a stretch from there. I guess in my head, I figured that he fell in love with her because she gave him what he wanted sexually….and so that was the “key” to happiness in a relationship, and then for me, my sexuality became my identity, I was nothing if a man wasnt sexually attracted to me….and that carried on long into adulthood and is even still with me somewhat, although less than it was before, now that I am learning and changing my views on things.

My husband thinks its “ego” because he doesnt understand how deeply I have held that belief, he thinks I just “got my feelings hurt” because he doesnt think I’m “perfect” or whatever…he doesnt realize that something that to him is just “well honey, you need to lose a little weight [to become more physically attractive to him]” is an emotional gunshot wound to my soul because of that belief.

To me, today, love means vulnerability and loss of control and to conform, and I know that its still skewed and that isnt actually what love is, but I know that its somewhat true, at least to really love, you have to be somewhat vulnerable….which scares the crap out of me. I have never let myself “feel” vulnerable to anyone before I began therapy for these issues, so its a fairly new feeling to me, and I hate it….but I know its a necessary part of a relationship (if you want it to be a good one anyways). I can honestly say I never loved. I still dont know if I love him in the “right” way….but its the best I’ve got for now.

The one thing that scares me the most, is the lack of understanding of “familial” love. I hear all these mother’s talk about how much they love their kids, and how they would do anything for their kids and their family and yadda,yadda, yadda….and then I look at myself and think “I think I love my kids, I think I would do anything for them” but I dont feel any kind of huge emotion that would constitute “do anything for them” in my mind. So I am worried that I am shortchanging my kids in a lot of ways because of my inability to really “love” them, in the way it seems like “other people” love their kids. But I dont know, I assume that is probably skewed somewhat too because my representative sample for “familial love” is movies and tv shows and magazines and the few people I know close to me that have children.

I know that I love my husband and children the best that I can, each and every day, and even if its not “love” like love is supposed to be, its the best I can do, and that has to be enough for me right now.

Thank you Darlene, you made me think about a lot of things, as usual 🙂


I did not love myself, I hated me utill not long ago. within the year.
So thought provoking and truthfull your giving is a real gift.I used to think if someone had sex with me I was giving them love and they would love me in return.I know that was wrong because I had sex with 7 women who I wanted love from and Only married the last one so the other six either I did not recognise love or they did not love me. I still feel for them. I’ve just recently started to love me stopped having sex at all or even wanting to a few years ago.Still some confusion about the definition of love but to care seems as close as I can get to a meaning of love.Thankyou for making me look at me By showing you. Looks like love to me what you give.


Hi Splinteredones,
This is what I am talking about. I love how you say that the fear for you life will likely always kick up it’s heals but that you “know now from whence it stems”. Finding out where some of this stuff comes from ~ where it has it roots and where it grows from, that is what helps me daily. thanks for this beautiful and inspiring message.
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Fi,
Thank you for expanding on this topic ~ you have added so much here with your comments. This is such a complicated subject, I had SUCH a big mess to untangle in order to sort this whole thing out, self love, the trust issues. (I still have a bit of it and maybe always will) but being willing to keep going forward is what helps the most. Being willing to keep reassuring myself that I can keep going, I can keep re-wiring my old belief system about love and about all the other things things I had the wrong definitions of, is the biggest win I have ever found. I had a similar reaction to “I love you”. I remember thinking that I was getting better when in therapy about a year in, I decided that if my therapist “tried anything” I would kick him as hard as I could and run out the back door leading into the garden. That was growth for me! LOL
I am so glad that you are here Fi.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Sheryl,
This is excellent! The ultimate love expressed in dictating an entire life. I can totally relate. When I came out of the major fog that I had been in my whole life I had such a profound realization about exactly what you have highlighted here. Love was compliance ~ it was me complying with people who didn’t really care about me, they just wanted to control me. My compliance fed their lack of self esteem. It was like this giant pecking order.
And I love your ending ~ beautiful description of the new love that you are learning and living in now.
Thanks for sharing, Hugs Darlene

Hi Amira!
Pretty woman was my ultimate fairy tale movie.. I tried to make it happen for me! My mother taught me that my value was sexual; that it was my only power and that might be why that movie got to me. I have had a lot of root problems stemming from that particular belief. The sexuality identity thing was one of my toughest problems. I still have some weight issues connected to that whole thing. We all have different things we can become attached to that we believe that “love is”. (many false beliefs usually) My husband believed that love was affection. We also had problems because he believed that if I agreed with him that was love too. (but he didn’t have to agree with me to prove love and that is part of this too ~ that we all have different ways of believing in this false love and they don’t make a ton of sense because they don’t work “both ways”. )
Statements like “If you loved me you would…….” are very damaging. (even if spoken without words)
About the loving my kids thing… I can relate to those fears that you have expressed too. The single biggest key to this for me has been learning to love myself. Sorting myself out has been huge for me and has had a huge effect on how I am with my children and husband now. The thing is that I had to learn not to get totally anxious about how long the dang process was taking. I had to keep telling myself that it is OKAY to BE in the process. And it is. And looking back ~ it always was.
So glad you are here!
Hugs, Darlene


Once again, Darlene, you have spoken my truth without even knowing me.

The love I learned at home was always conditional. It was always about measuring up (which I never did, and never have, even now). It was also about covering up the truth of who I was. Crying was weakness. Anger was sinful. Sex was shameful, and yet ubiquitous. I never felt comfortable expressing love in my family. My grandmother used to tell me she loved me a hundred times a day and yet would be so hateful at the same time that it got very confused. I used to think that if I told her I loved her, I would disappear. I remember being on a bus one time with her. She was taking me to Children’s Hospital in D.C. and she was holding on to the pole on the bus, and I was sitting next to her. I remember feeling a feeling of real love bubbling up inside me…I mean, at that moment, I loved her so much, it hurt. But I didn’t express it. I knew I couldn’t, because if I did, she would swallow me whole and I would disappear. The thing is, I disappeared anyway from smothering my love so completely for so long.

The funny thing is, I knew my family’s definition of love was wrong. I KNEW it. But what I replaced it with was the fairy tale kind. The romance novel kind. The “if only I find the right man and he loves me, everything will be perfect” kind. Which is just as unreal, but it sure feels better to fantasize about it.

As an adult, I have been wary of love. Have never found it in a relationship. Have found it with friendships, and for that I thank God. But I still have trouble trusting it. I still wonder what people who “love me” want from me. I assume it must be something. Either that, or THEY are extraordinary. They couldn’t love me because there is something inherently good about me. I hope I will get to the bottom of it. I hope I will see the other side some day.

I thank you (and all of the commenters here) for letting me know that I’m not alone and my experience does not make me a freak.


thanks again writing something that I instantly relate. It is amazing, the human mind, consistant and ever changing at the same time. For as long back as I remember you desribed exactly my thought process on love. Most of my life I looked at it like most four letter words in our vocabulary, more of swear word with a very abstact meaning to me. I felt left out of the conversation when friends and family discussed their love for each other. This just increased my everpresent feelings of lonelyness that I knew I deserved, after all that is I had known. With the topic concluded it reafirmed to notion that I was unique to everyone for I did not need this four letter word in my life and further more you all must be weak if you need it. I guess in hindsight maybe I was not a happy person???? On a daily basis your ability to intertwine and reflect on the true meaning of our past experiences is a gift. To see the past and turn it into beautiful thoughtful present day experience is something we all should aspire to. Your thoughts and letting us all share in them is something I look forward to each day. Thank you for helping in the way you have chosen to give back.


Hi Edward,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken,
Finding out about false love, finding the true meaning of love and finding out how to do self care and love myself was a huge part of the recovery process for me. It intertwined with almost every area that I needed to learn or grow in, and intertwined with all of the abuse and mistreatment including emotional abuse. I realized that I could not recognize love from someone else before because at the root of all of it was the misunderstanding of what love is. SO complicated… but so important and yes it is out of my love for my fellow truth and freedom seekers that I do this work.
Thank you for being here, and for leaving your comments.
Hugs, Darlene

You have written in a nutshell exactly what I am talking about. And with so much confusion about “love” who would be comfortable about expressing it?? I was told that I was loved too. But actions said differently. I too thought the answer would be in a man.. (But if you read my prince charming was a murder suspect” series then you know that I had little success with that quest! LOL) I got to the bottom of this ~ and if I can then anyone can, so don’t give up! Keep coming along,
Love Darlene

Hi Ronald,
I remember when I was in my twenties and decided that I didn’t “NEED” anyone… and I was just so irritated with myself and my struggles. When I look back on that today I realize that the root of that was my confusion about the whole love thing.. that it didn’t “function” the way that I thought it would.. and why would it?? We were taught about it the wrong way. A childhood trauma effects us so much more then even we knew and I wondered why the heck I was so unhappy and felt so ungrateful as an adult. Today I have come to understand just what the childhood trauma left me with. Left US with. and I know why I struggled and I know where it came from now. I also know how to get past it! and that is just too big to keep all to myself! LOL
Thank you for your lovely encouragement and compliments to me in your comments. I appreciate that so much!
Hugs, Darlene


L-O-V-E If you said that to me, I would ruin it. Books that helped were “The Road Less Traveled” and “A Return to Love.” (books are a healing medium for me). In a court room in 1973, with my father being questioned because he had given me drugs, he shouted out: “I love you. I never laid a hand on you. Do you love me?” (except that he had never said it before, so I looked behind me, and except that he had sexually assaulted me) I don’t think L-O-V-E is black and white. 20 years after he committed suicide, I explored my feelings in a journal. “Whether I loved or hated him, or both, was an abstract piece of heart subject to interpretation. It depended on how I looked at it. My instinct was to love him and expect him to love me in return. That was natural. Perhaps if he had loved me it would have been easier to love him. But he did not nurture love. Instead, he provoked hatred. Love was defeated by fear until I hated him with a passion, which was what he’d asked about. I wrote one line to describe how I felt: It saddens me beyond my tears that love was lost within the fears.” My STEP father definitely thinks that love means obedience. And I don’t have to comply. As adults, we don’t have to comply!


Reading this in many ways I heard my inner self say ‘I hate love’. Really… It’s been a deceptive thing I’ve heard my whole life. Actions do speak louder than words. I’ve had more ‘love’ from strangers and people who’ve never even used that word with me.


Yes ‘love’ in my childhood meant obedience; love meant compliance; love meant doing what was required without comment, reaction or response; love meant being whatever they wanted you to be at any given time; love meant keeping your mouth shut; love meant keeping the secrets secret; love meant you belonged if you complied; you were wanted if you complied – but all in the wrong ways of course. Yes, false love indeed. But the only kind of love I knew. Ruined me for the rest of my life, made it impossible for me to love or be loved because I grew to fear love from an early age and cannot get past that fear.


Hi Lynn!
One of my favourite books is People of the lie by M Scott Peck ~ same author as the Road less Traveled. I got my eyes opened to this subject from that book. I was just so used to accepting what I was “shown” about love, and it got all mixed in with the movie definition of love and throw some great fantasy life in the mix and voila, you get a pretty messed up kid that grows up. (also messed up)
I finally asked my therapist a question that had bothered me for years. I asked “do I have to love my parents?” It terrified me to even say that out loud. It sparked a chat about obligation. Does obligation have any place in “real love”. NO. I have done a lot of journaling and meditating on this too. Those words, Obligation ~ Obedience ~ do they really have something to do with LOVE?
Thank you so much for being here and for this contribution!
Hugs, Darlene

Hi Louise,
I hear what you are saying here too!! It really has been a deceptive thing that we DO hear our whole lives. Big subject! But I must say that now that I really understand what LOVE is NOT, I am able to see this whole subject with new eyes. MANY many people have this definition of love wrong!
Hugs, Darlene

Thanks for coming back and posting even MORE clarity! You could turn your comments into a list post called “What love is NOT.” This is so powerful. I might do one myself and use some of your ideas here and expand on them. More words that have no place in the same sentence as love ~ compliance, submit, keep secrets, mouth shut, on and on and on… And isn’t it tragic that so many of us associate love with fear? That is what I call a huge “truth leak” about the state of the emotional world.
Hugs, Darlene


I do remember thinking that I thought “HAD” to love them unconditionally which meant I had to put up with all their garbage. Or I thought it did at the time. Now I can’t even imagine living that way. I am such a different person now I am horrified at what I put up with. Then I just woke up and realized how come I gotta take all the crap and take it and take it and say nothing? It isn’t love. I had to learn to love me first. Only then could I learn a healthy way to love and receive love.


Thanks for this one, Darlene! Love is a word that I doubt I will ever understand. It is the people who have “loved” me who have hurt me the most. My mother used to say she loved but didn’t like me… that’s confusing! I constantly had to alter who I was in order to gain her “love”. My first husband was abusive, but he always claimed to “love” me (and still does). He was so obsessed with hearing me say I loved him, that if I forget to say it as we ended a telephone conversation, he would call back to berate me. It got to the point where “I love you” made me jumpy… wondering what on Earth the person uttering those words really wanted. It was never unconditional and it never came for free. When I met my current husband, I flat out told him that I would prefer not to hear those words very often. It’s kind of sad… it’s become a habit now, not saying it. I do say it to my children, and that has taught me a lot about the true meaning of the word. Still… “like” means more to me than “love” ever will. Just the thought of someone saying “I like you” brings tears to my eyes.

I love M Scott Peck as well… I should dig those out of storage and read them again!



As I was reading the post and comments from Darlene’s ‘Emerging from Broken Facebook’ page on how and why it can be difficult to leave controlling/abusive people who say they ‘love’ us I was struck by a PROFOUND realisation…
It’s my mother who has always needed me and cant survive without me. She is the needy and damaged one!!!
She used to tell me continuosly that I was weak and unlike her who was so strong- brainwashing me to such an extent that I really believed her.Another message that usually followed from this was, that her children should love and look after her, and at the same time we were meant to be willing to be punch-bags for all her bittnerness at the world- I say no!!It was not my job to love and look after her when I was a child, it was hers. She did not teach me about love; she only knew fear, pain and hate. She betrayed me and my siblings.
I am coming out of believing her lies.


Hi Aerin,
These points you make are also great additions to this post. The things that were drilled into us, making no sense, (I love you but I don’t like you ~ implying what?? To me that implies obligation. ~ I love you because I have to… but not that you are worthy. NASTY stuff that is. ) and we had to figure all that out. These are the lies I am always talking about.

and Pinky, your comment reminded me of this too:
I had to take it all apart so that I could do for myself what “they” didn’t do for me. Self love came from the work of looking at how I came to “not love” myself. How did I get to that point? I looked at abusive situations, emotional and psychological, physical and sexually abusive situations ~ the trauma that had taken place in my life, and I looked at how it effected me emotionally and how I adjusted to that in order to cope. I stopped trying to change and looked at the whole root of it, the why of it. THAT is where I found the answers. What I changed was the false belief system that I had accepted about myself and my value.

Thanks so much for coming over here to post that profound comment!
I remember when I realized that it was my “them” that were the sick ones. (I was sick too, but not in the same self centered way) I remember when it hit me that these controllers/abusers were doing this stuff to me to keep me down ~ so that I would not realize how much they NEEDED to get their validation from pushing someone else around! I was shocked and disgusted. It is pathetic! And I say NO too.
Thanks so much for posting!
Hugs, Darlene


I’ve been thinking about love all day today-or rather what it isn’t. Realising what my parents called love was actually the opposite has FREED me from the guilt that i used to feel, I used to always think..”poor them(my parents and other abusers) they were trying to do their best and they did love me in their own way”.
Secondly this realisation has freed me from identyfying with them into identyfying what it was really like for me to live with such sick individuals.
I don’t know if I have explained this well here, but this freedome has given me an actual key to being on my own side so I can work through into my health. Poor me I say!-not in a pitying way, but really getting how big the lie was and how much I believed it, and how much I endured.
Thanks Darlene for this post-it has really added to my healing in a BIG way-I can’t say enough how the guilt I felt was such a stumbling block in my recovery.
Hug, Nadia


I am so glad you shared this! I also went through this thinking, and I made every excuse in the book for my parents too about why they were how they were etc. And you next statement is also how it worked for me too. I was able to finally realize what it was like for me and acknowledge MYSELF as a victim in the malfunction. AND yes, once I was on my own side, I was also able to advance in my recovery. This is why I believe that the truth indeed does set us free ~ we just have to know what the REAL truth it first!
And I have come full circle. Now I also feel sorry for my parents, but it is because they don’t have the truth to set THEM free yet. Not for the reasons I used to have to excuse the malfunction that I was raised in.
THANK YOU so much for this comment Nadia! This is exactly how it works!
Hugs, Darlene
and P.S. be sure and check out my next post about just how I came to accept and understand that false definition of love.


[…] by the comments in my last blog post “If love is the answer, what is love?” I had this bright idea to write a blog post about what I was raised to believe “love is” and I […]


I have published a follow up to this post. It is called Love is Patient; Love is Kind ~ a bit of a rant. This next post talks about the ways that I processed the teachings about love that I had heard and tried to accept in my dysfunctional world.


Darlene I understand I just cant seem to articulate it the way you do. I came to healing but your blog and rods help to validate the healing I have had.


Hi Pinky,
I didn’t mean to imply that you don’t understand, just that what you said reminded me of what I wrote. So glad that you are here.
Hugs, Darlene


Darlene I didn’t think so I just get frustrated at myself sometimes because at times I can really articulate thoughts well and at other times I cant and only I know what i mean LOL! Just saying that you articulate thoughts that I understand but haven’t put into words.


I had exactly the same damaged love definition. The prince charming and then the so conditional love I experienced. Plus the abuse from people that ‘loved’ me. My parents never told me they loved me, so when guys did it I did everything to keep hearing it.

Just like you I sorted it out and discovered that I didn’t love myself. I was taught/shown that I was worthless so I believed it. I had to learn to love myself and discovered what love really meant during this process. No prince charming came along showing me, no, it was me. I never even considered that I could be able to ‘save myself’.

Hugs, Andrea


Hi Andrea,
I didn’t consider that I could save myself either. We were brought up to be dependant ~ Learning what real love is and what it isn’t, and learning self care and self love was the biggest single bottom line for recovery that I have discovered! Not a quick fix ~ lots of damage and lots to UNLEARN ~ but I am free now and no longer under the opression of “them”.
Thanks for being here!
Hugs, Darlene


while we are on the subject of love, I went to a performing arts high school. we call it a family. I graduated 30 years ago and we still do My face book page makes up mostly people from that high school. I didn’t think it was weird at the time that my family didn’t say they loved me I was used to it. But my friends from school who were the first people I said I love you to said that it hurt them that my parents never told me that. it was the first time I realized that it wasn’t normal not to have parents who loved you. but it didn’t hurt as much because at my school we had love a replacement for family that wasnt healthy but at least we had a bond. I grew past it and met others many are still in high school so it was good and bad but it did open the door for me to realize my family wasnt normal.


Love in our house was an obligation, it meant you HAD to perform and behave in certain ways. It was required, although liking someone was not (I’ve blogged about THAT lie!). Love was power and control. I also learned love was a yappy dog that if you gave in to it you would be ‘trapped forever’ by someone who wasn’t what you wanted. I was always confused by the conditions on love, the need for it to have rules and obligations, roles and false faces. The line “I love you but I don’t like you.” scarred me and tortured me. Being forced to express love for those who showed you none was like kissing a corpse – and yeah I had to do THAT too!

I started to read fantasy and romance novels and I discovered that being ‘saved’ was a dangerous situation,it was a TRAP. Even when I escaped my abusive ex my family and their friends wanted me to be ‘saved’ by someone who ‘might not love you but could provide’…eh WHAT? Sorry…I don’t need a dufus in tinfoil or a knight in shining armor. I didn’t want to be a princess, I had other aspirations which were either scary or squashed.

Deciding love was not a factor I could fully partake in led me to believe I was unlovable, that I had a love deficiency, and that even my best ‘love’ would fail miserably. I would say, “I love you” and get silence. I would long for an “I love you” without conditions or obligation.

What a strange world where we can find love and acceptance in so many places, near and far, but hardly ever where we are taught to seek them first: home, church, family. What I found there wasn’t the love I know now, the love I’ve found on the healing path but would I have known it without the hurt and scars before? I pray I would, because I have tried to show my son and my husband and our friends love without obligation or conditions.

Great post Darlene, love this path you are on…great to travel there with you! Bright blessings!


I am going to expose deeply felt convictions that immediately surfaced when reading the excellent points brought up by Darlene Ouimet. Her article is something we should think about deeply so to defeat false beliefs. This may not be the appropriate forum for what I am going to write, but she hit a nerve and this is I what is coming out… “..

This is a great example of the fact, that for well meaning people who trust scripture, scripture is the tool Satan will use for them to have dumb, idiotic, and evil ideas which can lead to dumb, idiotic, and evil actions towards themselves and others.

Remark: Personally, I have had and will have false beliefs, unwarranted feelings, and unwarranted emotions. I hope many are defeated by Truth.

Check out the temptations of Jesus and read what Satan used there…Scripture. Don’t you think Satan was pulling out his most powerful weapons on Jesus. Matthew 4

This is also an example of letting scripture help us in understanding other scripture. Check out Jesus responding to entrenched evil in the temple. Jesus was angry and he went after them! He drove them out with a whip! This does not look like image painted in I Corinthians 13, hence I Corinthians 13 it is not a complete picture of how to be in all situations with all people.

Remark: I have not done this, but I have just had a thought to throw out there. We should teach children Or anyone) that if they are in a situation, (especially where there is a power differential real or even perceived) and they are being abused… Flee! Find a safe place! Then get as many powerful people as you can to go after that (you can fill in your own blank.) Tell more than the police. Tell everyone that has power and loves you. Entrenched evil must be driven out. Power is necessary.

Back to main idea: This also shows scripture must be interpreted in context. Paul was writing about motivation and giving a picture for Christian ministry in the body of Christ.(Even in that we cannot assume it is complete.) We can respond like this to brothers and sisters in Christ who sin and fall short even as we sin and fall short of perfection in our thoughts and behaviors. Read I Corinthians 12

Remark: The scripture is also clear that if a fellow Christian sins against you in a way that keeps bugging you, you need to go to them and clear the air and work it out. Living in grace does not mean extending cheap forgiving grace. Loving confrontation, confession, and forgiveness is appropriate. The general teaching on “just forgive because Jesus forgive you …is not complete and often taken in a doormat sense. Study the life of Jesus. He was not a doormat!

Bad teaching and even “this is what yo ought to do” focused teaching at “church” is a source of many problems and heart ache. Children have no resources to fight the bad teaching. It is my opinion that if you go to a church with gross amounts of bad teaching, leave. If you are a teacher take the job seriously. Work with the scripture rigorously and carefully. You should have a little fear about teaching. It will energize you to do good work.

I think a person is better off in no church than a bad church. Find a Church that always goes back to Jesus and what He did on the cross for us. There was only one triumphant Christian, Jesus. He and what He did for us should be the focus.

God is Love, but he also Holy and Just, and will pour out anger, wrath and judgment against sin and sinful people, evil and evil people. You can rest assured that in the end, if these sinful evil people do not repent and trust Jesus to save them, God will get them. God will pour wrath and judgment on sin. Hell is well… hell. (This is like on of my other deep thoughts… “pain hurts”

This is the reason for the perfect life of Jesus and the cross. For those trusting in Jesus the wrath reserved for them, (the wrath of God against me), was poured out on Jesus and Jesus’ perfection given to them (and me). It is a gift. Thankfulness and a thankful life is the appropriate response.


Samuel I agree with most of your well thought out post. I too am a seasoned Christian. I was not raised as a Christian though but came to faith in 1985 as an adult. The one thought I do not agree with through is that God will “get ” them. Without getting into too much history and detail I believe we are living in the day of grace and God is not willing that any should perish and he rains on the just and unjust. I know someone personally in ministry who has gotten away with illegal things like dealing drugs to former addicts trying to recover. helping someone hide in the Dominican republic by giving them a false identity, and on and on. I believe the bible teaches God will judge sin on the other side of eternity. I have been through so much that for me to live in peace I had to let go of the idea that God will expose or judge sin and my abusers and the attorney’s who help them and other abusers. I believe true and full justice is only found on the other side of eternity. Many evil people will get away with rape, abuse, even murder in this life. We may never see justice on earth. It is important to find peace apart from finding justice since it may never happen. I don’t ask God why people get away with things they shouldn’t in my mind. My life is in his hands and all that he has allowed. Many will never be exposed never be caught never see justice on earth. But as Christians we have to believe that all things work together for the good of those who love God.Not that abuse ever happens because of God. _never! I am saying that our lives are in his hands regardless of the injustice in the world. It is a part of living in a fallen world to realize the ugliness of sin and the payment Jesus made. The book of Revelation does say that there are martyrs who are waiting for justice and do get to see it in eternity. Revelation 6:9
In eternity we will find justice. Until then we can live grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made as you pointed out.


here is the verse I am referring to
Revelation 6:9-11 (New International Version)

9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters,[a] were killed just as they had been.


~ Pinky I agree with you on the injustice/justice issue. I’ve been a Christian for early 30 years. Earlier this year I disclosed to the police the truth of my childhood fully believing God would make sure I’d see them exposed and would get justice for me. But instead the opposite happened – my case was thrown out and everything hushed up. I’m having to come to terms with the fact that there is no justice in this life, my abusers remain hidden, kept safe and unexposed by a justice system which isn’t about justice. I fully believe God will judge them beyond this life in eternity and I have to wait until then for justice. I will have to wait until then for the whole truth to come out and for me to be vindicated. But in the meantime it’s so hard.

~ I agree with Samuel that sometimes a person is better off in no church than in a bad church. After years of being damaged by bad churches, bad teachings etc I’ve been outside of ‘church’ for three years now. That has enabled me to unpack what I believe, what I’ve been taught etc over the years and to seek Jesus Himself rather than the Jesus represented by other Christians. In the process I’ve begun to find the answers to the deep searching questions of my heart and re-establish my relationship with Jesus on a much more sounder footing. It is not ideal to be outside of the church, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get to the truth and get away from the false and the damaging stuff often met with in churches.

~ My abusers have got away with it in this life but I fully believe they will not get away with it in eternity, although it would have been better for them to have dealt with their sins in this life.


Fi- I can so relate. Your situation sounds a lot like mine. only mine made international news and I was called a whore and my ability to make a living was ruined. My husband had to cash out his retirement and it has gone on since 2002 and though I paid all of my court fees it still come sup on my credit report because it is fixed and their intention was to ruin me and make it so I can t work and nobody will listen to me. I was filmed on 3 talk shows which dropped my story after spending thousands filming it due to fear of being sued.
I can’t but any more details into writing but there is no justice. I can only know that my life is in God’s hands and that nothing can touch me that he doesn’t allow. I have peace knowing I have forgiveness and eternal life. I have had a life of mixed blessings both the best and worst of life. And nothing shocks me any more!


Thanks Pinky, I’ve seen the absolute worst that life can throw at you throughout my life. I’m hoping that as a result of the journey I’ve begun during the last few months I’ll begin to see and experience some better things of life, eventually. I’m not easily shocked either but the events of the past few weeks and months have severely shaken me and the foundations of my life. Whatever happens with God I can face anything knowing HE sees me as pure and untainted however violated I feel!!


just a little thing, but these little things ended up being huge for me in my recovery ~ you said “He sees me as pure and untainted however violated I “FEEL”. Those were places where I got stuck. He sees you as pure and untainted ~ yes. But it is “however violated you were” (“however violated I was” Or “I am” ) What happened to you isn’t just a feeling, it is the truth. You were violated. You have been extremely violated. Little things like that were huge when I said them a different way. It was like I validated myself just switching the words like that.

I used to say things like “I feel like it might have been wrong that…………” and when someone told me that it WAS wrong I was stunned. So I am careful about my words to myself and about the abuse now.
Just had to say….
hugs, Darlene


Oh wow Darleen, yes I see – somehow it’s easier for me to say ‘I feel violated’ rather than ‘I was violated’ probably because I’m trying to avoid getting in touch with the truth of the terrible things done to me

– partly because I still blame myself for not doing anything to stop it

– my worker said to me today “what could a 3/5/6/7/9 year old child have done? She was so tiny surrounded by all those abusive adults.” I looked at her a little lost for words, I knew she was right! But that 3-year old little girl still feels it’s her fault for being a good little girl and complying because that’s what good little girls do.

– But yes that little girl was violated.

– And yes, that is the truth!

Great point!


I know exactly what you are talking about; I sat stunned when my therapist told me the same thing… and I even realized why I thought I COULD have done something… and I sat there speechless… realizing that I was abused… I was violated, I was BLAMELESS. And it didn’t go away all in one day once I realized it, but it was a HUGE beginning on the right road!
Hugs, Darlene


[…] to live in the truth with me, and that in our marriage I have equal value, respect and our children know the real definition of love. I am grateful that I got my life and my voice back. I am grateful that I got my identity back and […]


My is Karla I am on facebook karla reeves. Ive just stumbled on your web site wow I am so over whealmed wow your words are what has been in my heart for yearss. Let me tell you some about me this passed augest2010 I published my first book ,the shades of grace its a christan book about the healing from god . as a child I was abused sexually mentally phyisally . at 16 years old i ran away from home from the controle and the abuse . well now iam 46 years old in councling about all my abuse i suffred as a child , i am writting a series of books ,the next book i am writting is about surrviving domstic vloince forgive me spelling , iam very dylixic . the 3d book i am writting under a diffrent name is about dealing with the tabu subject of sexual abuse of children and how they are groomed . the healing ive gotten from god writting about my life . then my next book is about 4 gennarations of women that have all passed down from mother to daughter the abuse and teaching your daughters to find a abuser. all these books will tie into each other and how abuse has effected the women in my life my mother me my sisters and breacking the cycle of abuse and how the healing starts with me and my daughter. ive spented time in a domstic womens shelter and the things i went threw as a co depended woman and victome of abuse . my goal is to follow gods will for me and its a healing menistiory of healing threw my books . its the hardest thing ive done is writting my books . i know i am not special my words are otherswords that dont have the words to speak the truth of healing . i let other women know they arnt alone when it comes to abuse , just like ive written in my first book , abuse knows no boundrys it knows no aboudrys of being rich or poor .
all the years of my life I hated myself , i didnt really didnt know why but iam learing that its due to all ive been abuse ive been threw. thanks so what you write on this web site .


Hi Karla,
Welcome to Emerging from Broken! It is wonderful that you are writing all these books and sharing your life with others who have no voice. This is a passion that you and I share.
I am glad that you are here. Please feel free to share as often as you wish.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,

I also have spent quite a lot of time defining and refining my definition of love. One thing I know for sure is that love always involves respect. People have all different ways for showing their love but when their is not respect it is just a word. I also believe that true love requires action. It is a verb not a noun.

I have been blessed to really have a good man come into my life and not only love me as I am but teach me what it means to love unconditionally. I always thought I had to earn love and if I didn’t work hard enough, love would be withdrawn. What I knew was not really love but an avenue of control. My parents say “I love you” all of the time but I’ve learned that it is not so much an expression of true caring but instead, they are checking to see if I’m still emotionally connected to them and under their control.

I truly feel sorry for my parents and people like them because I think they have experienced very little true love. They can’t give it nor receive it because they don’t respect others.


Hi Pam,
Yes, respect is a big factor. I feel sorry for my parents too… they really got ripped off in the same ways that I did. Never respected in order to learn respect. Never loved in order to know how to love. Never regarded with equal value so that they knew how to see others with equal value.
Thank you for sharing!
Hugs, Darlene


There is absolutely no way that I’m going to feel sorry for my parents, they were and still are pure evil. So what if they had shit done to them they still chose to abuse. To feel sorry for people like that is just wasted emotion. They showed me no mercy and admit no fault to this day. They deserve everything they get. They made choices, bad ones. One thing real love does is not ignore reality or pretend things aren’t as they are.


Hi Fi,
I totally agree with you in all that you have said here. They deserve what they have put out.

I feel sorry for my parents that they are not capable to do any of those things that they would have to do in order to make things right. Your parents don’t know anything about love. It sounds like they never did!

One of the things that I realized for me is that if I didn’t learn it from them, then they never knew it either. Even though they had choices, they didn’t know they did and refused to look at the possibility that they did which is what makes them different then me. AND I AM disgusted with my parents for the choices that they made, yes and I still place the blame and responsibility on them for that. . But I also feel sorry for them that they never were never taught the truth either. That they refuse to open their eyes to see it now… even when I tried to tell them. So yes, they do deserve what they get but at the same time it is very sad. It is a combination of both for me today. The truth could have set them free as well, but yes they chose not to go there.

It is a tough thing to explain and it has only been this last year or so that I have come to feel sorry for them.. and to really know that they have NO POWER over me anymore.
Hugs, Darlene


No idea what real love is. Do I love myself? I don’t know. Never known anyone that had the fairy tale love so i know that’s not it.

I was molested real young then pretty much abused my whole “childhood.” Didn’t have a childhood at all. Love is sex to me. Had quite a bit of sex before 16. Some were late 20s. I was into mostly bad boys. 16-23 I got a good education. Still had lots of sex ranging from sex parties to random. Made me feel good someone wanted me. That was kinda rare. One guy, basically a geek, like me. I told him the girlfriend thing wasn’t going to happen. 15 I think I was. He cried. So, later that day I have him a afternoon he’d never forget. I was a pleaser.

Went into the entertainment biz where it’s all a party. Orgies, sex clubs, you name it. I still smoke weed. Lucky I never got AIDS or anything with all my whoring. Therapy was lousy. Bipolar so got “help” there which was drugs. Not illegal ones. Benzos. One therapist was real lonely so I seduced her. I guess that’s what happened. She knew my lesbian lifestyle. We both bear some responsibility. Another wanted to and I told him to go to hell. Ah well. Really never had one person “love” me. No intimacy in all that sex either. Whatever intimacy is. It felt good. To be honest, I don’t feel guilt or shame. I don’t.

If you’re religious, good for you. Was in churches when I had this lovely childhood and, besides holier than thou bunch staring at my development shall we say, they could’ve intervened. Believe in God and that’s it. No offense but save somebody else.

I’m beginning to wonder what’s healing?

P.S. – not a hooker, stripper, call girl, etc. if that’s what you’re thinking. 🙂


Hi Darlene,

This post is what I needed to see!…I’m working on many definitions in my faulty belief system and one of them is “Love”. I was taught by my parents that love means compliance, loyalty, respect, and serving others’ needs. It’s what you do…the saying, “actions speak louder than words”…my mom would say this a lot, if she thought I was stepping out of line & not complying.

When I started dating in my teens, my boyfriends would always be the first to tell me they loved me. I always felt panic & my fight or fight reaction kicked in. I clearly remember the first time a boy told me he loves me, it was frightening and very exciting at the same time. I was hesitant in saying it back. I never understood the fear/anxiety behind it, until now. I was anxious about what does he want?…in my mind it was connected to sex. Love & sex got mixed up. I did have limits around sex, because I was taught “all boys” wanted was sex and I could “get pregnant” now that I was a “woman”. The message to me was I was no value, except as a means to have sex & get pregnant!

So, I had many romantic fantasies of love at first sight and I wrote lots of poems about love. Not all of it was romantic, I also expressed my fears of rejection and abandonment. I would get emotionally involved quickly, to please my boyfriend and I loved the intoxicating feeling of Love. Of course, my mom corrected me the first time I said I was in Love. She said, “It’s not love, it’s infatuation.” Well maybe that is true, but that burst my romantic bubble…I believe I was so needy for love that I attached myself to my boyfriends. Obviously, I was not getting my need for Love at home. I also had the belief of unconditional love and my parents love was conditional. I believe they taught me other people do the same…

My dad would even say he is “sewing his wild oats”…when a boy broke up with me. They were surprised, when I broke up with a boyfriend. I feel angry about the amount of fear they instilled in me. I used to see this as overprotective based on their love for me. But at the same time, they were not allowing me to grow up.

I currently show love by serving my kids. Although, I do set boundaries on what I will do and I will say no to things they want.
I also tell them I love them often, encourage them to be independent and teach them about choices & consequences. I do not withdraw my love, based on how they behave…I love & accept them for who they are, with strengths & weaknesses. I’m not God fearing in my approach because my God is loving!….


This is excellent work! Thanks for sharing it here. You highlight many of the things that go along with the false definition of love.
Hugs, Darlene


Hi Darlene,
Thanks for your support! It means a lot to me…I just wanted to highlight, that even though, my parents taught me the false definition of love. I do better with my children in showing them that love is encouragement, loving, & unconditional. It also involves healthy boundaries, which I actively work on. I don’t instill the fear associated with Love, my parents taught me, and that’s a big difference!….


NEW post on EFB ~ […] the abuser. It is not love for the self. It has nothing to do with love at all. Finding out what LOVE really is went miles towards my recovery” ~ Darlene […]

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